Posts tagged mental health.

Resources on black women + borderline personality disorder?

Has anyone ever read/watched/heard any kind of study on rates of borderline personality disorder in black women or women of color in general? I’m asking part for my zine and part for myself. I found out a few months ago that I have a BPD diagnosis (state clinics keep you out of the loop, it’s been on my file for like 2 years but no one told me), and some of it makes sense, especially in correlation with early PTSD, but as always I’m skeptical of some of it.

Namely, I know there’s studies looking at

  1. Very high rates of BPD diagnosis/possible overdiagnosis in women, but I can’t find anything about race within that
  2. High rates of depression in Black women but low rates of treatment through hospitals, clinics, therapy, etc.
  3. Bias in misdiagnosing Black men as schizophrenic based specifically on pathologizing anger
  4. Correlations between BPD and lower quality of life (poverty, unemployment, etc), and also between BPD and imprisonment, where both conditions disproportionately affect Black people

But nothing is putting together the things I want to know about. But my skepticism comes especially from that false link between Black men and schizophrenia, which blew up before & during the Black Power movement as a way to pathologize and criminalize Black male anger, and to treat Black people’s justified anger and paranoia as evidence of insanity (here’s an interview with the author of The Protest Psychosis which pulled up a lot of evidence of this trend).

And honestly, mental health diagnoses are so fuzzy that at some point, half the entries in the DSM-IV look the same. So I’m wondering specifically about those symptoms that overlap between schizophrenia and BPD, such as paranoia and anger, how they can be pathologized when they are socially justifiable, and how if one has been shown to be racially biased, how about the other one.

But don’t nobody study Black women’s psychology.

Anyway, that is what I’ve been wondering about for like a month now and not finding much about. If anyone can find me some resources that put some of these questions together, I will make you a nice drawing or something. Also I have Jstorr access and can help share whatever comes up.

Trigger warning this time: Pt. 2 on trauma resources for young POC

Just remembering that this is where I was at a few weeks ago, the day before I went into the psych hospital where I spent a week.

And thinking about how the whole “personal is political” really feels flipped for me as a woman of color, as in the political is personal. Working with youth of color when I’m only 10 or so years older than them and grew up with some of the same fucked circumstances as them means I take their shit deeply personally. And most of the shit that gets my mental health a mess is related to race and gender.

Like pretty soon after I got admitted to the psych unit, one of the nurses who was interviewing me asked why did I have such low self-esteem, which I thought was a weird question and didn’t have an answer for… cause I really didn’t have a self-esteem problem til I was surrounded by rich white kids at an Ivy League college. But didn’t know in that moment how to explain that my self-esteem nose-dives if I’m surrounded by white people, but is generally cool otherwise. Cause I just found out about my diagnosis of borderline, and I’m unsure how much of my distrust of white people—based on a lifetime of experience plus history—is just labelled paranoia and being used to pathologize my anger.

Rambling. Meds time. This is where I’ve been at for the past couple weeks and am finally becoming lucid enough to put it together a little.

readnfight:

So I am also thinking a lot about mental health. And how the kid who shot up Sandy Hook supposedly had Asperger’s and/or a personality disorder, so as always the response is to pathologize mental health issues. So that is another thing I need to be deliberate with any way of talking with my students about this, because many of them have mental health problems/issues/gifts. I know several of our students have Asperger’s and I don’t want them to feel vilified or dangerous or anti-social when they’re not at all.

And I know many of my students have undergone trauma already, and like I said before my students’ lives aren’t such that I can assume they’ve been immune to trauma. That just isn’t realistic in the places they live. And with trauma comes all sorts of other mental health shit.

Such as, my ways of dealing with my PTSD shit have become a monster of their own, in ways that are understandable but sometimes a problem, to where I just found out recently that I’m also diagnosed with a personality disorder stemming from the PTSD. But again, that sounds weird and scary and unpredictable (and lately it is) but I just turn that shit in on myself instead of out on other people. But no one would believe me on that.

So basically I need some backup for those intergenerational from one traumatized crazy black kid to another, what does it mean that we never took school safety and comfort for granted and what does it mean that no one besides us protects us and that the cops aren’t for us and the schools mostly aren’t either /// meanwhile this is if I end up at work tomorrow instead of checking into the hospital which I’m debating so there we go, it’s always complicated.

Remember that time I reappeared and was only moderately incoherent?

Yeah, then I checked into the psych hospital the next morning, so that foiled my plans to actually be around and be getting tumblr work done and writing something. More on that after brunch & a bath, but everything’s cool and there are some really rad people in the psych ward.

Which also means I didn’t get a chance to son all the white people at work about how to care for our youth during trauma when all the resources they have are based on white suburban narratives, but more on that later as well as I’m working on it.

Trigger warning this time: Pt. 2 on trauma resources for young POC

So I am also thinking a lot about mental health. And how the kid who shot up Sandy Hook supposedly had Asperger’s and/or a personality disorder, so as always the response is to pathologize mental health issues. So that is another thing I need to be deliberate with any way of talking with my students about this, because many of them have mental health problems/issues/gifts. I know several of our students have Asperger’s and I don’t want them to feel vilified or dangerous or anti-social when they’re not at all.

And I know many of my students have undergone trauma already, and like I said before my students’ lives aren’t such that I can assume they’ve been immune to trauma. That just isn’t realistic in the places they live. And with trauma comes all sorts of other mental health shit.

Such as, my ways of dealing with my PTSD shit have become a monster of their own, in ways that are understandable but sometimes a problem, to where I just found out recently that I’m also diagnosed with a personality disorder stemming from the PTSD. But again, that sounds weird and scary and unpredictable (and lately it is) but I just turn that shit in on myself instead of out on other people. But no one would believe me on that.

So basically I need some backup for those intergenerational from one traumatized crazy black kid to another, what does it mean that we never took school safety and comfort for granted and what does it mean that no one besides us protects us and that the cops aren’t for us and the schools mostly aren’t either /// meanwhile this is if I end up at work tomorrow instead of checking into the hospital which I’m debating so there we go, it’s always complicated.

Everybody’s Backbone (from Readin & Fightin #3)

A myth all that stuff about our strength and strength and then some.”
―Toni Cade Bambara, “Witchbird”

In my grandmother’s basement, in the room that was my granddad’s office and before that my dad’s room, is a framed poster from for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf. I used to stare at the poster and try to figure out what it meant; it was one of the most intriguing things I saw as a child. When I think about art I saw when I was young, that poster—and the fact that it was framed (and therefore, important) and at home—jumps out at me. It is part of what comes to mind when I think about art I have made and what makes me feel like I am compelled and allowed to make art.

I hadn’t read the book until recently, but a group of students put on a production of it when I was in high school. I was in an abusive relationship at the time but, with my piss-poor sex ed class in 9th grade and pretty much no resources about sexual violence and consent, I had never before read or watched anything about sexual violence or abuse that spoke to me. I had never seen anything of myself in movie plots or books, had no names to attach to my situation. I thought I was just totally going crazy. But the things girls my age were saying in the play about sexual assault, about men’s attempts to control other people’s bodies and lives, and the bluntness and lack of shame with which they said it was the first time I saw something that resonated with my own experiences of abuse, as they were going on.

Sadly, that never happened again, even with (especially with) the mandatory consent presentation we had when I started college, or the books I read in school with veiled portrayals of relationship violence, but from the perpetrator’s point of view or otherwise muddied and stripped of its connections to real life.

"We deal wit emotion too much

so why don’t we go on ahead & be wite then/

& make everythin dry & abstract wit no rhythm & no

reelin for sheer sensual pleasure/

cuz i dont know anymore /how

to avoid my own face wet wit my tears/

cuz i had convinced

myself colored girls had no right to sorrow/

i cdnt stand bein sorry & colored at the same time

it’s so redundant in the modern world”

for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf, Ntozake Shange



Like this quote, it was a long time before I could see depression as more than a white women’s problem. There is such strong pressure for women of color, across many different cultures, to be strong all the time, to be their whole family or community’s backbone. For black american women this often comes through as the simultaneous praise of and threat from the black matriarch, the woman that supposedly emasculates black men and is the source of the “downfall” of the black nuclear family (sound dramatic? Check out the Moynihan Report on the dissolving of the black community).

For myself and many women of color around me, it has meant that there is absolutely nowhere to turn when we need to say, “I can’t do this on my own,” “This is too much for me,” etc. For a good pop culture example of how rare it is for black women to have space to admit weakness, look at the constant depiction of black women in movies, eternally playing the maid or Mammy characters. Look at how women of color are either constantly messy and tragic, or cold and emotionless.

We get commended for our strength, as though having any weaknesses is an entirely bad thing. This has never sat well with me, and recently I’ve been able to figure out that it’s because I do have weaknesses, and that’s okay. I cannot be tough all the time. I can be no one’s backbone but my own. There are things I cannot deal with. It’s important for us to admit this, and it’s important for other people to not put so much pressure on us.

Recommended reading on mental health, depression, and trauma

  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou

  • So Long a Letter, Mariama Bâ

  • The Salt Eaters, Toni Cade Bambara

  • The Sea Birds Are Still Alive, Toni Cade Bambara

  • Breath, Eyes, Memory, Edwidge Danticat

  • Woman at Point Zero, Nawal el Saadawi

  • Killing Rage: Ending Racism, bell hooks

  • Rock My Soul: Black People & Self-Esteem, bell hooks

  • Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston

  • Color of Violence, ed. Incite! Women Against Violence

  • Corregidora, Gayl Jones

  • Zami: A New Spelling of My Name, Audre Lorde

  • Beloved, Toni Morisson

  • The Bluest Eye, Toni Morisson

  • for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf, Ntozake Shange

  • What Lies Beneath: Katrina, race, and the state of the nation, ed. South End Press Collective

  • In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens, Alice Walker

  • Also, much of the work of Gloria Anzaldúa

Questions on Radical Mental Health (from Readin & Fightin #3)

"The client sitting in front of me is the reality created by oppression. I tell her I’m glad we are in this together. Strength comes because we are involved; we are figuring a way out, she and I. We are not crying helplessly; ours is not a cry in failure."
―Quoted in “Voices of the Pioneers,” Lakshmy Parameswaran, Shout Out

Last fall I was asked to give a workshop on revolutionary organizing along with two of my friends, all 3 of us women of color. We were supposed to talk about what we’d each worked on in the two years since we graduated college. I sheepishly admitted that in the past year I’d dropped off almost everything I was working on and had been busy instead with therapy, adjusting to psych meds for the first time, learning how to be in a healthy relationship, and sorting out the psych diagnosis no one had told me I had. Most of the people at the workshop were college students, and I think they came expecting easy answers; instead I could only tell them my experiences of the past year and pose more questions. I told them about what it’s like to not have insurance and go to a state-run free mental health clinic: the front parking space is for a state cop car and there are cops walking around inside; you empty your pockets, go through a metal detector, and open your bag for a search when you go in; you often aren’t trusted with pills for more than two weeks at a time.

Despite all that my experience has overall been really positive. I feel better than when I first went in last summer, I am learning important skills and asking myself huge questions, and after being a little more pushy than I was raised to be, I am in therapy with a psychiatrist to work on things tailored to my diagnosis. I bump into regulars from Food Not Bombs, and we now have much deeper conversations over lunch about our mental health experiences. My zine-partner-in-crime and I have been stocking up on mental health zines for our distro. And as always, I’m taking something I’m supposed to be ashamed of and instead talking about it publicly.

So what does this have to do with women of color literature? For starters, oppression manifests itself in our personal lives in many ways, and in turn affects our health and access to caring for health or being cared for by others. Current national debates about health care, food access, and abortion rights make this pretty clear, but also have many subtleties. In the past year, for example, I have been thinking nonstop about the image of black women as everyone else’s tireless backbone and how this pressure keeps us from seeking help for our own mental health or admitting to “weaknesses”, and that is even if we have access to resources that may help. I am in therapy now for post-traumatic stress disorder, which comes from the 3 1/2 years I spent as a teenager in an abusive relationship, and being sexually assaulted many times in that relationship. I had pretty much no resources that I knew of to get out, and no knowledge of what abusive relationships are and how they work. I see my experience as completely linked to gender-, race-, and sexuality-based oppression/power (class has also played a part, more now than during the relationship). These are things I read about in the books this zine is about, but also things I live.

For women of color, the ways we navigate oppression as individuals and as groups informs how we are doing, and often becomes the setting of what we read and write.

In the workshop we gave, I mostly threw out questions I’m trying to find answers to. In this zine, I want to work out places to find possible answers. Some of those questions are:

  • How are poverty and mental health linked in a vicious cycle?

  • How can health and well-being become intrinsic parts of social movements?

  • Why is there instead often a culture of overworking yourself for the sake of The Movement, and expecting others to do the same? How might this leave people behind who know they cannot do this to themselves? Who is it most likely to leave behind?

  • How can we radicalize mental health? What resources do radical movements have, and how can we make the most of them in creating healthy movements?

  • How can we move beyond judgment in taking care of ourselves? e.g. “I can work this hard without sleeping so why can’t you?” “I don’t take pharmaceutical drugs so you shouldn’t either.”

  • How do oppression and privilege affect our access to health resources? How do they directly and indirectly impair our health?

  • How do we stay positive (or at least not totally hopeless) in a world with so many messed up things happening?

I don’t intend to answers all (or any!) of these questions in this zine; they’re open-ended anyhow. They set up a context of questions I try to find possible answers for.

(CW for victim blaming ableist crap, discussion of anxiety disorders) Beating Anxiety ›

youarenotyou:

conjuringseed:

intending-to-burn:

gotmagicwithoutwands:

onlinecounsellingcollege:

There are some easy tools that anyone can use to cope with their feelings of anxiety. They include:

1. Learning more about anxiety: This will help you to understand what is happen when you start to feel increasingly anxious. First, remember that we all feel anxious at times. It can help us to prepare for and cope with hard tasks – such as sitting an exam or teaching a class. However, it leads to problems when the danger isn’t real yet our body is signalling a high state of alert.  

2. Learning strategies that help us relax: The two most common strategies for relaxing and unwinding are calming down our breathing and muscle relaxation. The former involves taking slow, gentle breaths (breathing in through the nose, pausing for a few seconds, then breathing out slowly through the mouth, again). The latter involves learning how to tense and relax the different muscles - and then repeating this until our stress levels fall.

3. Actively challenging our anxious thoughts: When we’re anxious and tense we often see the world as a threatening and hostile place. This usually reflects faulty, negative thinking where we jump to conclusions or expect the worse to happen. This is out of proportion, exaggerated thinking which is unrealistic – and makes us feel uptight. A strategy for helping is replacing faulty thinking with a more realistic and accurate approach. This necessitates us challenging our automatic thinking so we see things in a clearer, less distressing way. Of course, it takes practise and effort to shift our change anxious thinking – but it’s worth the effort in the end

4. Facing our fears: One of the best ways of dealing with our fears is exposing ourselves to what makes us feel afraid. For example, if you avoid being with people as this leaves you feeling anxious then the best way forward is to simply face your fear.  You could make a list that goes from “least to most scary” - and then reward yourself each time you move a level up the list.

Note: In many ways, it just takes practise and a conscious decision to not be beaten by anxiety!

Okay, I need to rant for a moment.  While I’m sure that this post is well intentioned and may apply to some people who experience issues with anxiety, it also reads strongly as an “it’s all in your head” argument throughout much of the passage, which is something that I, as someone who has both Bipolar Disorder and Generalized/Social Anxiety issues find deeply disturbing and offensive.  Yes, relaxation techniques might help a bit, but anxiety episodes and/or attacks are not something someone can calm themselves down from in many cases.  If you feel that your anxiety is out of your control, by all means, please speak to a mental health professional and discuss options, including talk therapy or medication.  

I personally have several sets of circumstances that provoke a very strong anxiety reaction (though usually not full on attacks) and that reaction is in no way under my control.  Not being able to find something (due to significant short term memory damage/loss issues), feeling isolated or cut off (ie. cell phone battery running dead when out in public alone), and many other factors can provoke an anxiety reaction even though I take a maintenance medication for my anxiety.  I do also use a case by case basis medication as needed.

So if relaxation works for you, that’s all fine and good, but if it doesn’t, please don’t buy into the idea that you should be able to deal with it if you just think about it and calm down.  Mental Illnesses and disordered behaviors are often caused by real, physiological issues in how the neurological system and neurotransmitters work.  They are not things that you can think your way out of.

Reblogging for the commentary, because when we saw this post we got really pissed off as sufferers of panic disorder. We wish some deep breaths and saying “It’s not really anything to be anxious about” was enough to make everything all better.

^ yep.

loooool @ #4. exposure therapy is NOT something a person should be doing on their own, that is very dangerous advice. these things are good tips for like, mild, day to day, common anxiety that doesn’t impair a person’s functioning, but absolutely useless for anyone with moderate to severe anxiety disorders including PTSD (which has been proven to structurally change the brain.) and srsly as a person who has had debilitating anxiety for most of their life, it has only gotten worse as i’ve gotten older. i thought i could deal with it on my own and refused to take medication and continued forcing myself into situations that gave me extreme anxiety, because i’d heard so many times that this was the One Way To Cure Oneself, except it didn’t cure anything. i barely got through high school and couldn’t keep a job to save my life. and it never got easier, it only got worse. panic attacks, dissociation, paranoid delusions, the whole deal, and it got way, way more severe after PTSD. like i would pass out or throw up if i was around other people. i would start hallucinating. i would be unable to hear anything because the voices of people talking would turn into this loud buzzing. for over a year. trust me, i fucking TRIED but there was nothing i could do about this until i started taking meds because it’s a goddamn chemical problem. and eventually, i stopped taking them (again) because shit like the OP wrote has caused me to internalize so much victim blaming ableist nonsense about how i just need to try harder. this time, the anxiety was so bad i wound up drinking alcohol every time i needed to leave the house. in the end, i dissociated so badly for over a week that i unknowingly walked into oncoming traffic when i forced myself to leave the house because i thought i could “fake it til i made it”. so yeah anyone who thinks that anxiety is something we can control can fuck right off.

Yeah, all this commentary. Bolded just above is mine. Telling myself that everyone experiences anxiety is pretty meaningless when I have PTSD and don’t know where the fuck I am. It would be totally false to tell myself then that everyone goes through that, because they don’t.

Exposure therapy can work but needs to be done really carefully and in a controlled environment. And again, that’s not shit I’m gonna just try on my own and assume that my upbeat attitude will make it okay.

I really hate this accusation about how your anxiety comes from how fucked up you falsely think the world is. That’s really unhelpful when plenty of people’s anxiety is caused by the fucked up things that happen in a fucked up world. My shit comes directly from structural oppression. Like lack of resources and criminalization of people of color. What good would it do to tell myself the world isn’t that bad? That shit happened, and keeps happening, and it makes no sense to pretend it isn’t the case to sooth my own anxiety.

Like was said above, putting all this emphasis on people just trying harder to get better, as though things larger than them don’t also need to be fixed, or as though fucked up things aren’t happening around them, is really limited and really dangerous. Maybe this is self-help for stress out suburban white kids, but I don’t know a whole lot of people whose shit this applies to.

fuckyeahlatinamericanhistory:

EXISTENTIAL ANGST GAME STRESSFUL: thegoddamazon: daniellemertina: karnythia: Ever notice how there’s no…

crankyskirt:

weexist-weresist:

thegoddamazon:

daniellemertina:

karnythia:

Ever notice how there’s no mention of the psychological damage done to communities of color by colonialism, imperialism, or slavery? No mention of any syndromes that might be created by an ongoing message of genetic & social inferiority constantly beings spoonfed to kids? Gee, I wonder why there’s no discussion of the long term harm that could be done to a community as a result of systemic dehumanization & oppression.

I was just thinking this the other day. Between the media/ educationally inflicted messages of our inferiority there has to be some psychological ramifications. I know sociology has words like “internalized stereotype threat” and “internalized racism” (although that is only discussed when a black person literally hates other black people when there is far more to that).

I find it interesting that people have theorized about the psychological ramifications of rich people who don’t get attention from their parents, or people in unfulfilling white collar jobs, but NOTHING about the dehumanizing effect of the combination of poverty & blackness. Or just blackness.

They’re afraid of what effects the inescapable truth they are destined to uncover will have on the world. Better to keep the masses ignorant than have them aware that their lives are not okay.

Here are some links to get some discussions started:

Racism and Asian Mental Health

Mental Health Problems More Common Among Kids Who Feel Racial Discrimination

Racial Battle Fatigue and Blacks

Muslims and Mental Health

Depression Among Minority Children

Racism and Mental Health of Children

Poverty Goes Straight to the Brain

Model Minority Myth + Stress

Mental Toll of Racism

Asian Women and Suicide

this list is accessible articles, a quick scholarly search yields thousands of complicated studies for brainiacs who are interested

Reblogging for personal interest in psych resources for marginalized groups. This is a damn good list to begin digging.

Why Do So Many Latina Teens Attempt Suicide? A Conceptual Model For Research.

I’d also add a lot of bell hooks’ more recent work, specifically Killing Rage and Rock My Soul (both of which I read and liked a lot, much more than a lot of her writing). Other books of hers about mental health and self care are Sisters of the Yam, Salvation, and All About Love. She cites a book a lot called Black Rage, a psych study of anti-black racism published in the 1960s. I have a thrift store copy but haven’t read it yet to vouch for it.

(via fylatinamericanhistory)

That’s crazy.

At least 10 times a day. I live with a psychiatric disability. (via microaggressions)

Or else, “Don’t listen to them, they’re just crazy” or any variation on that dismissal.

Why is Eminem still popular?

imaginalfreqs:

readnfight:

and how can I make it stop?

He should seriously be in a mental hospital. But you know, the dominant culture / corporate music industry LOVES to put psychopaths on pedestals, give them lots of money, and a microphone. And our youth are the first to listen to this shit. #crazyy

I don’t like Eminem because his shit is oppressive. I don’t want to argue against what he says with other shit that is oppressive, in this case putting down people based on mental health. “He’s crazy” is absolutely not why I want to see his popularity end; his sexism is. Just like I don’t want to see people make money and fame off of misogyny, I don’t want to see people locked up in mental hospitals against their will.

In fact, some really amazing MCs have talked about dealing with mental health issues, especially if you include addiction and alcoholism, and that’s not a reason to trash them; if anything, I want to see far far more space made in hip-hop for talking honestly about mental health.

(via sseassons)

Again. To The Icarus Project, the radical left, the anti-psychiatry movement: SHUT. UP.

youarenotyou:

Seriously though, the absolute biggest reason I don’t get involved in local activism is because of shit like the Icarus project. It really fucking sucks that I can’t find people to organize with because they don’t take my disabilities seriously. Because, apparently, if you want to be radical at all (and I’m using that term really loosely) you have to subscribe to the dangerous fucking bullshit rhetoric that the Icarus project encourages. The Icarus project wants you to believe that mental illness isn’t real, that people who are diagnosed with MI have “gifts” and that pharmaceutical medications are bad. Two minutes on their website and I’m directed to guides on “How to come off psychiatric drugs” and how “Friends make the best medicine”.

Here’s a quote that really demonstrates how much they romanticize mental illness (which they of course put in scare quotes, because it’s not real):

Participation in The Icarus Project helps us overcome alienation and tap into the true potential that lies between brilliance and madness.

And this isn’t isolated to IP. The ENTIRE radical left loves to talk about how depression is the natural result of a consumerist, alienating culture and that corporations are trying to control us by pathologizing personality traits and shoving drugs at us. I’m always hearing about how untreated mental illness produces ~artists~ and we’re really trapped creative souls that have been indoctrinated by capitalist society; our magical gifts to humanity are repressed under all those psychiatric drugs.

Hi, I have mental illnesses. They are real and part of my activism is trying to convince people of that, which is fucking exhausting because actually, the dominant culture already teaches people that relying on meds is weak, that MI is all in your head, that we all just need to exercise more, take more vitamins, work less. People already believe this nonsense without “radical mental health” people like the Icarus Project and its followers preaching more ableist bullshit.

I need to take medication if I want to continue to be alive. That isn’t because of capitalism, or because I’ve been brainwashed by the pharmaceutical industry, or because of some deep desire within me to be a more productive worker/citizen. It’s because my brain works differently than other people’s. It’s because without medication, some of my conditions will worsen and cause permanent brain damage, delusions, and even suicide. Is the pharmaceutical industry problematic? Yes. Is psychiatry oppressive? Yes. Does society need to change to better allow people like me to operate within it? Yes. But none of this means my mental illnesses aren’t real or that they’re actually a gift that needs to be harnessed. None of this means I don’t actually need medication. None of this means I should be shamed for being dependent on pills.

I mean, I’m generally very quick to talk about how considering doctors “the ultimate authority” is wrong and hierarchical; that the way we view, discuss,  and diagnose illness is flawed; that the pharmaceutical industry is primarily interested in making money, not helping people; that having a personality disorder doesn’t mean I’m cursed or flawed. But The Icarus project works against me.

If you have mental illnesses and consider them to be more valuable than harmful? That’s great! You want to avoid psychiatric drugs? Go ahead. But to try and speak for all people with mental illnesses - and to encourage people to stop/avoid traditional routes of treatment - that’s fucking dangerous.

Here’s a radical notion: Stop demanding that I justify my need for medication. Stop speaking for me. Stop telling people with MI what’s best for them. Stop equating mental illness with a toxic society/culture. Stop dismissing science and traditional treatments. Stop invalidating me when I fucking talk about my experiences.

There’s just no room in radical communities for people like me. And they won’t let me forget it.

 The Icarus Project needs to admit that it is pretty much only about bipolar, and even within that, they need to limit themselves to people with bipolar who can live with it. If they want that to be their focus, to work on celebrating and helping people celebrate being able to live with things labelled as mental illnesses, that would be a very rad project.

I wrote about this before and don’t wanna go totally into it again, I really don’t have the energy, speaking on mental health, but I think the main problem is their scope. They’re speaking for way too many people who are dealing with way too many different mental health issues. I don’t know what it’s like for someone who is bipolar, so I’m not gonna tell them that they should or shouldn’t be on meds, that they should or shouldn’t see it as an illness, etc. I can only say what my own shit is like; I would never want to tell someone else what they should be doing with their mental health based only on my own.

And, yes, I totally agree with the way that they want to bring societal issues into mental health. Things like racism and sexism affect my mental well-being every day. Would I be out of line to assume that most people involved with the Icarus Project are white? So I think I can assume racism affects most of us preeeetty differently. And being bummed that the anarchist utopia only exists within your white punk anarchist house, and that it would spread if only everyone got into composting—that’s not the same as being depressed. That is being bummed about something.

I read their zine Friends Make the Best Medicine a month or so ago, to see if we wanted to add it to our library. (We didn’t). I was pretty insulted by it for many of the above reasons. If people can use their mental state as a gift, more power to them, that rules. I myself am going to be asking for stronger meds, and was in the hospital last week, and am probably going to be in the hospital again soon. It is really not helpful for a zine to tell me that maybe I just need more (white anarchist) friends.

I wrote in my zine (which I have been meaning to put online, but I don’t have internet at home anymore) about looking for ways to make radical mental health actually work, and mostly what I think it takes is incorporating mental health into social movements and social forces into mental health, and also leaving people free to decide what works best for them, and then respecting their judgement.

Also, I use illness in quotes sometimes not because I want to say that mental illness doesn’t exist, but because I don’t want to label someone else’s shit an illness. I want that judgement to be up to them. I haven’t been sure whether to even identify my own shit as an illness, although the past 6 months it’s been pretty clear. Maybe it’s semantics.

(via feministrobot-deactivated201203)

Notes for R&F 3: bell hooks quotes

I’m in the stage of writing my zine Readin & Fightin #3 where I’m finally getting quotes all in one place and diggin back through stuff. I’m splitting it half on education, half on mental health, and how those come up in women of color literature. And it just so happens that I have been reading two books by bell hooks that are entirely about both those things. I know there’s often critique of bell hooks by other radical women of color because she sometimes lets white people off the hook (which happened from time to time in the two books I’m reading) and because white feminists use her as a token woman of color perspective so they can claim diversity (happens a fair amount, but I’m not sure she’s the one to blame). BUT despite that there’s a lot of stuff of hers I’m reading that really nails what I’m trying to work on in my zine. And I just watched Black Is, Black Ain’t and she is THE BOMB in that.

Here’s quotes:

Black supporters of the civil rights struggle for desegregation of schools did not take into account the way our self-esteem as black students would be affected when we were taught by racist teachers. … Black schools were locations where our self-esteem as black students was affirmed. This was not because all our teachers were black, but because the majority of them were politically astute about the impact of racist thinking on black self-esteem and chose to counter that. “Standards,” Teaching Community p. 69

Education as the practice of freedom affirms healthy self-esteem in students as it promotes their capacity to be aware and live consciously. It teaches them to reflect and act in ways that further self-actualization, rather than conformity to the status quo. “Standards,” Teaching Community p. 72

The segregated schools of my past were the locations where many black folks first were affirmed in our longing to be educated. That affirmation was crucial to our academic development. Yet segregated schools today, particularly in our public school system, function merely as reservations where students are housed, disciplined, and punished, or taught that they cannot achieve academically. “Standards,” Teaching Community p. 79

Until this culture can acknowledge the pathology of white supremacy, we will never create a cultural context wherein the madness of white racist hatred of blacks or the uncontrollable rage that surfaces as a response to that madness can be investigated, critically studies, and understood. Denying that rage is at times a useful and constructive response to exploitation, oppression, and continued injustice, but it creates a cultural climate where the psychological impact of racism can be ignored, and where race and racism become topics that are depoliticized. Racism can then be represented as an issue for blacks only, a mere figment of our perverse paranoid imaginations. “Beyond Black Rage,” Killing Rage p. 26

Placed in positions of authority in educations structures and on the job, white people could oversee and eradicate organized resistance. The new neo-colonial environment gave white folks even greater access and control over the African-American mind. Integrated educational structures were the locations where whites could best colonize the minds and imaginations of black folks. “Teaching Resistance,” Killing Rage p. 109

Emphasis on racial uplift, though crucial to efforts to intervene on and challenge white supremacy, nevertheless created a culture of shame wherein any aspect of black life that could be seen as evidence of mental disorder, of pathology, had to be hidden or viewed as utterly aberrant. It is this untalked-about culture of shame that has made it practically impossible for African Americans to acknowledge the ways in which living in a white supremacist society and being the constant targets of racist assault and abuse are fundamentally psychologically traumatic. For black folks to acknowledge that we are collectively wounded by racial trauma would require severing our attachment to an unproblematized tradition of racial uplift where that trauma had been minims in the effort to prove that we were not collectively dehumanized by racist oppression and exploitation. … To break with a colonizing mentality, black folks must acknowledge the need for racial uplift even as we also engage a politics of resistance that can address the psychological trauma we experience. “Healing Our Wounds,” Killing Rage p. 134-135

Dear followers interested in mental health stuff:

workingpooranarchist:

A really awesome, super fast easy read that I CANNOT RECOMMEND HARD ENOUGH:  I’m Crazy  by Adam Bourret.  It’s a short graphic novel that deals with the author’s experiences as a young queer man living with OCD and other mental health issues.  And it’s totally fucking amazing.  It’s a great, accessible read that describes incredibly well what it’s like to have OCD, what it’s like to want to commit suicide, what it’s like to have intrusive thoughts that you fear will manifest, and it intersects those experiences with his relationship with his boyfriend and his family in a way that is beautiful and sweet and adorable and real.

Read it if you can find it!  Seriously, super worthwhile.  (I was lucky enough to meet him at a bookfair a couple years back and traded him some zines for a copy of it— actual best trade I’ve EVER made, serious)  Last night my anxiety was reallyfuckingbad and after I calmed down enough to function a bit I reread it and it helped me feel a lot better, less lonely and fucked in the head.

Thanks for the recommendation! This sounds good, I’ll try to find it.

Ugh, anarchists on facebook, please stop the shit about how someone’s problematic or violent behavior can only be explained by “mental illness” and then making fun of people for being “crazy” and therefore violent. Srsly we’ve been over this. I want to say that I know you know better and trust that I mean it.

Apparently this isn’t even the first time I’ve had to tag things anarcho-fail cause the tag just popped up. So shape your shit up!

Arizona shooting victim arrested after threat ›

I’m sorry, WHAT, all around:

PHOENIX – One of the Arizona shooting victims was arrested Saturday and then taken for a psychiatric evaluation after authorities said he took a picture of a tea party leader at televised town hall meeting and yelled: “you’re dead.”

James Eric Fuller, 63, objected to something Trent Humphries said during the forum taped for a special edition of ABC’s “This Week” with Christiane Amanpour, Pima County sheriff’s spokesman Jason Ogan said. Fuller was in the front row and apparently became upset when Humphries suggested that any conversations about gun control should be delayed until all the dead were buried, KGUN-TV in Tucson reported.

Fuller was arrested on misdemeanor disorderly conduct and threat charges, Ogan said. While Fuller was being escorted out, deputies decided he needed a mental health evaluation and he was taken to a hospital, where he remained Saturday evening.

The hospital will determine when he will be released, Ogan said.

Fuller was one of 19 people shot at a Safeway store Jan. 8. Six people died and Rep. Gabrielle Giffords remains in critical condition with a bullet wound to the head.

Fuller described the shootings as “a bad crime drama” in an interview on CBS’ “The Early Show.” He said he felt a bullet that hit his knee but didn’t know he had also been struck in the back. Fuller, a naval air veteran, drove himself to Northwest Hospital after being shot, according to the Arizona Daily Star. He was later taken to University Medical Center where he was released two days later.

The show was videotaped at St. Odilia’s Catholic Church in Tucson. Victims, witnesses, emergency responders and some of those hailed as heroes after the shooting discussed the tragedy.

The special will air Sunday on “This Week” with Christiane Amanpour.

Whaaat. Dude survives this shooting, says, “You’re dead” to a tea-party dude a few days later, and gets locked up in a psych hospital against his will?? While they’re talking about gun control on a station called KGUN. I’m sorry, what the f. Let people grieve. Let people deal with their traumas, don’t traumatize them further by arresting and institutionalizing them. Shit’s a mess.